Top positive review
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An automatic tea maker that actually works well
on January 22, 2017
Brewing good tea is finicky. You need just the right temperature for steeping it; the tea leaves need to have room to breathe; and you must absolutely, positively take them out at the right time. Other than that, it's easy.
This appliance tries to take the art out of tea making. I mean that in a good way. You tell it "tea, black, medium", pour in the water and put in the tea leaves, and it does the rest. (If you're fancy, you can say "180 degrees, 3:30 minutes" instead.) It heats the water, drops the tea basket into it, leaves it there for the allotted time, pulls it out again, and beeps. You pour the tea. It can keep what's left warm for you.
It works surprisingly well, actually. Even delicate green teas come out flavorful and fresh. Black teas are not over-steeped (unless you ask for that, of course). You can make a single mug (aka two tea cups) just fine - even though only the bottom of the basket is in the water, infusion still works well. Or you can make a dozen cups; there's a mode that keeps moving the basket up and down in the water to ensure maximum contact.
To me, the best feature of this device is also, perhaps, controversial. It automates the tea making process; you can set it up, walk away, and when it beeps, your tea is ready to enjoy. It takes the ceremony out of the tea-making. Without the lifting-the-basket-when-it-is-time feature, you pretty much have to stand there and watch the tea brew. A minute of contemplation and reflection, all wiped out by technology. I guess that's progress...
Of course nothing is perfect. The carafe itself cleans up easily, but the spent tea leaves will cling tenaciously to the inside of the metal basket, requiring vigorous scrubbing with a suitable kitchen brush to get them out. That's mildly annoying. Perhaps Breville should design a custom-shaped brush to go with this basket. (Perhaps someone else should?) Of course, you can let the tea dry in its basket and then it'll drop right out, but that would take hours.
Five stars for the quality of the tea, the design, and the general convenience. Minus one star for the annoyance of cleaning up the tea basket afterwards. A very good device. Recommended even for picky tea drinkers.